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Running social media for your brand may seem pretty simple from the outside. A few comments here and there, publish a few posts and then get a few thousand likes. Simple, right?

Well, those who’ve adopted it as a core marketing channel and tried to monetise it for their brand have found that it’s not nearly as simple as it looks. There’s a lot more nuance to working on social media and multiple strategies you should seek to employ for the best response from your followers.

And as far as social media strategies go, your go-to choice above all others should be to create a social listening strategy.

What is social listening?

For those who’ve never heard of the term, social listening allows businesses to track, analyse, and respond to social media conversations related to their brand or their competitors.

Brands are able to do this thanks to the sophisticated AI employed by many social media channels that track things like comments and post interactions. Through the analysis of this data, brands can construct a social listening strategy and pull out key actionable insights to improve branding, customer service, products, and more.

If you’re new to social media and would like to grow your social from scratch, then a social listening strategy will give insight into the best hashtags to use in your social strategy for your brand.

It’ll also give you insights into your industry and your competitors, so you can see what content is working and what’s not, meaning you can adjust your own content plan accordingly to achieve optimum results.

What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

It’s important to note that social listening is not the same as social monitoring. Social listening specifically focuses on how people are discussing a brand through multiple online channels, rather than solely monitoring brand-specific media.

At a quick glance, social listening can seem very similar to social media monitoring. However, social media monitoring looks at surface level metrics such as engagement rate and the number of mentions, whereas social listening looks behind the data to things like sentiment, emoji analysis, competitor analysis, and hashtag analysis.

Social monitoring is all about watching, observing, and analysing how a brand’s media pages and campaigns develop over time. It pays no attention to outside sources for engagement purposes.

Compared to social listening, social monitoring is a far more passive approach and is not particularly proactive. It has its uses, but it also restrains your outlook to brand only media.

This is why social listening is important. It gives you an understanding of overall engagement much faster than if you simply monitor your own social channels.

Why social listening is important?

Social listening is a must for any brand. Quite frankly, it’s a treasure trove of information that can be crucial towards helping you understand how your customers are engaging with your brand.

For example, social media listening could be used to pick up customer complaints about your brand, allowing you to reply to them swiftly and maintain optimum customer service.

Alternatively, you could use it to see when customers are enjoying your products, helping you to track and boost brand advocacy.

Social listening is also a multi-use tool that can not only be used for social but for digital PR as well. We have a whole blog post about how to use social listening to build links that you can read on the c3 blog

Examples of how to do social listening

If you already have a good presence on social media but want to improve your efforts, social listening is a great tool to help grow your presence even further.

It allows you to narrow down on trends relevant to your brand or offers in real-time. You can then adapt your social content strategy accordingly so that you are always ahead of your competitors when it comes to these trending topics.

A perfect example of this is the ‘how it started vs how it’s going” trend, which started out with a few couples posting comparative images of the past and present. Brands like Mercedes Benz then jumped on this trend very quickly.

So did Pretty Little Thing.

We also jumped on the bandwagon at connective3, pretty early in fact, as a result of our own social listening tool!

How to do social listening

To learn how to do social listening, the first step is obviously to get your business set up in social media. Once you’ve done this, there are a variety of tactics you can implement to construct an effective social listening strategy.

Opinion mining

Opinion mining, otherwise known as sentiment analysis, is a text analysis technique that uses computational linguistics and natural language processing to automatically detect sentiment or opinion from within the text.

In other words, it’s a fancy algorithm that can ascertain opinions based on the text and language used. This allows it to determine if the text is positive, negative, or neutral, allowing you to respond accordingly.

Effective opinion mining is crucial for any social listening strategy as it forms a core pillar supporting many other social listening tactics.

Crisis management

Opinion mining is a great way to enable you to respond effectively to negative feedback. Having insight into negative sentiment within posts regarding your brand will allow you to quickly pick up on a PR crisis and avoid negative press.

One example of this is when a passenger on Aer Lingus posted a photo on social media of a packed flight during the current Covid-19 pandemic. This caused a massive backlash for the brand. However, social listening allowed them to respond efficiently and quickly to the incident.

Rapid customer engagement and response

Social listening also allows you to identify all posts related to your brand or posts mentioning you, so you don’t miss any engagement opportunities out there!

Engaging with these posts will not only improve your customer service, but it will improve your social engagement and, in turn, sales. Whether it is positive or negative, it is always beneficial to acknowledge your customers.

One brand that has done this well is Taco Bell, as customer service is a top priority online and offline. They use social listening to ensure their customer service is to the best of their ability, whether it be replying quickly to a complaint or ensuring product quality.

The marketing department at Taco Bell said:

“Instead of sitting behind glass and listening to a focus group, we now have access to 20 million consumers and can be inspired by them and connect with them and have real relationships with them.”

Conducting market and product research

If you want to release a new product or service, social listening allows you to identify what consumers like or dislike by analysing the emotional segment on their posts.

This way, brands can find solutions to their consumers’ problems or supply a demand, giving them the advantage of time. By using social listening, brands are able to detect this before their competitors.

Below you can see an example of this when running ‘Tesla’ through our social tool. In the sentiment section, you can determine how people are reacting to the brand in a certain time period you select.

Identifying your customer’s needs and dislikes

By monitoring your customers/audience, you can identify their needs or desires and cater to them quickly. By acting on the back of this data, brands can create products/services, marketing, and social media strategies.

Fitbit is a perfect example of a brand that has utilised social listening to engage and respond to customers and mould their product offering to the needs of their consumers. For example, they developed a ‘Reminders to Move’ feature on the back of the feedback detected by social listening – a buzzing feature reminding users to move around.

Keeping a close eye on your competitors

Social listening technology will provide you with endless amounts of data if you request it. What you do with that data that will provide an edge against your competitors.

You can explore what your competitors are currently doing and analyse their past performance regarding business updates, marketing campaigns, product launches, etc. Social listening gives you that advantage so you can identify your opportunities and threats in real-time and effectively respond. This way, you can always stay one step ahead.

Identifying influencers that are the most relevant for potential campaigns

When running a campaign involving influencers, it is important to use individuals that will have the biggest impact on your audience. Social listening provides you with the data that determines the ideal candidate for your brand but also the necessary insights to see how well they have performed after it has been executed.

These tips are just the first steps you can take in turning social listening methods to your advantage. Take them on board, implement them into your social strategy, and start your brand’s journey to social media success.

We do more than just digital PR here at connective3. From SEO and organic content to paid social and CRO, we’ve numerous benefits that your business can make use of. Get in touch today to take your business to the next level.